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Harwood eighth-grader set for national finals rodeo

Morgan Foss is preparing to participate in the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo later this month in Des Moines, Iowa. Dave Wallis

A lasso whirls above Morgan Foss’ head while saddled on a quarter horse named Joe.

The horse and rider team sprints after a moving calf-roping dummy towed behind an all-terrain vehicle.

At the precise moment, Morgan casts the rope forward, its wide loop wrapping around the dummy’s tin snout.

The practice continues, her father, Jeff Foss, steering the ATV among poles and barrels scattered about an outdoor practice field.

Morgan, 14, of Harwood will compete in breakaway calf roping at the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo on June 22-28 in Des Moines, Iowa.

To qualify, she had to reach the top four in state junior high rodeo competition.

It’s the West Fargo eighth-grader’s second nationals appearance, previously competing as a sixth-grader in 2012.

Morgan started riding horses at age 4, her dad said.

He bought her a rope the following year at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot.

Right away she started roping a post near a fire hydrant located on the fairgrounds.

“That’s how it all started,” said Jeff. “She sat and roped that thing for two days straight and got pretty good at it.”

Morgan now participates in all rodeo events available to girls, including barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway, team and ribbon roping, she said.

Her other quarter horse, Uno, is used to train for barrel racing and pole bending.

Morgan credits her sister Sam, 21, with getting her hooked on horses.

“My sister was showing horses when I was two or three,” said Morgan. “I would ride around then and really liked it.”

Simply put, the Foss family has been a horse family for a long time.

“My whole family has had horses,” said Jeff, who grew up near Devils Lake, N.D. “We’ve shown them for many years. It’s kind of been a family deal for quite a while.”

The National High School Rodeo’s Junior High Division was launched in 2004 for sixth, seventh- and eighth-graders. It is a feeder system for high school rodeo competition with members from 41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia.

Next year Morgan will move up to high school rodeo competition as a West Fargo ninth-grader. Again, she must place in the top four to reach National High School Rodeo Association finals which will be held in Rock Springs, Wyo.

Her goal is to someday compete in the College National Finals. “That would be really cool,” she said.

Morgan also plays basketball and softball. But most of her time is spent on rodeo.

“She sits out behind the barn practicing on a roping dummy. She rodeos every weekend,” her dad said. “We have a horse trailer that we live in.”